Tempers Short in Saturday Session

Posted July 26, 2008 at 1:16pm

The Senate played host to angry partisan bickering during its two votes Saturday morning.

Frustrated that they had to come in for a rare weekend session, lawmakers whipped past reporters to get to the floor and then quickly left to catch their flights home. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) said that he did not mind the weekend session, but he wanted the opportunity to spend time with his family.

Before lawmakers were called to vote on a low-income heating assistance program, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted each other for the stalemate over Reid’s oil speculation bill. The two leaders went back and forth over how the Senate got to an impasse on energy legislation.

It was after they voted 72-13 to pass housing legislation that Reid and McConnell stood at their podiums and exchanged verbal blows, with party disciples flanking them on either side.

At one point, Reid interrupted McConnell while the Kentucky Republican was giving his closing remarks, and said that McConnell could talk all day long, because he was “going to get the last word.”

McConnell was arguing that nothing would get done if Reid continued to limit GOP amendments to the energy bill. But Reid said — to hisses on the Republican side — that when he offered votes on separate GOP amendments, Republicans would not agree to it.

Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) sat next to each other snickering at the Majority Leader. Coburn even shouted at Reid when the Majority Leader claimed that he offered separate votes on GOP amendments to the speculation bill.

The Senate was called in for a rare Saturday vote because DeMint would not waive the 30 hours of debate required to pass the housing bill under regular order. Irate Democrats had no shortage of condemnation for their GOP counterparts.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) tried to request an additional minute to finish her comments, but Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) objected, saying that he would allow her to speak only if the time was taken from the Republican time.